Technology for ESL

The Accessibility of Technology to Learners in Schools
By:Patrice Lesco

Although technology appears to be everywhere in society, there are many school districts that are still struggling with the thought of allowing students access to technology in schools. Part of the reason for this struggle is cost, while another significant factor is the belief that technology is not important in the learning process. The latter rationale, however, is simply a sign of ignorance because access to technology in schools supports learners in the modern world in a number of ways.

Sharing Knowledge
When learners have access to technology in the schools, they also have the ability to share knowledge. This means that students can not only access information provided by the teacher, but they can also share knowledge with one another and with people from across the globe. On topics related to social studies, culture, history and innovations, for example, the sharing of knowledge is vitally important because it has the potential for students to learn from others directly associated with a subject. Moreover, while textbooks may be outdated, Internet sites where students can interact with professionals, for example, provide current information on a subject.

Preparing Students for the Future
Some teachers believe that instructing elementary students in technology is not necessary. Yet as students progress throughout the educational system, they are tasked more and more with using technology to complete their assignments. For example, in middle schools students are often required to use computers to conduct research and in high schools students are commonly required to write their essays using a computer program. Therefore, failing to provide elementary students access to technology prevents them from being prepared for their educational future.

Keeping Students Competitive
When computers were first introduced in business, many older workers had to struggle to use new technologies to accomplish jobs they had been performing for years. This often caused older workers to not be able to readily compete with younger workers that had already had frequent access to technology in colleges and universities. Denying today's students access to technology would cause the same lack of competitiveness when those students enter the job market, resulting in students' being forced to take lower wage jobs and not function to their fullest potential after high school.

Supporting Critical Thinking Skills
Accessibility to technology by learners in the schools teaches critical thinking skills that are essential for student success. Critical thinking skills require students to apply learning in one area to learning in another and evaluate the cause and effect of this combined knowledge. Technology prompts critical thinking skills in multiple ways. For example, students may use technology to conduct research about a topic and then analyze that research to develop a plan that could propose a significant change in an area of social concern.

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